Keywords: Corporate Élite; Transnational Élite; Corporate Governance; Business Networks; Interlocking Directorates; Community Detection; Network Analysis; Network Science.
Business élites reconfigure their locus of organization over time, from the city level, to the national level, and beyond. We ask what the current level of élite organization is and propose a novel theoretical and empirical approach to answer this question. Building on the universal distinction between local and nonlocal ties we use network analysis and community detection to dissect the global network of interlocking directorates among over five million firms. We find that élite orientation is indeed changing from the national to the transnational plane, but we register a considerable heterogeneity across different regions in the world. In some regions the business communities are organized along national borders, whereas in other areas the locus of organization is at the city level or international level. London dominates the global corporate élite network. Our findings underscore that the study of corporate élites requires an approach that is sensitive to levels of organization that go beyond the confines of nation states.